CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

Peter – Focused Faith
 
You are God and i am not. I say this out loud and quietly to my inner self often because I have to. I need to always be aware that I cannot be God, do what God does or have the wisdom He has. I need Him. He does not need me. Realizing this keeps me humble before the God of all. Knowing this internally helps me to relax when changes are to be made in me and to let it happen. Knowing this helps me see others a bit more clearly with understanding because I am just as needy in God’s eyes. Be still and know God. Be still and know. Be still. Be.
 
1 Peter 1 booksPeter is a breath of fresh air as we begin reading what God put on his heart to write to all of us, then and now. Eugene Peterson writes,
 
“Peter’s concise confession–‘You are the Messiah, the Christ’–focused the faith of the disciples on Jesus as God among us, in person, carrying out the eternal work of salvation.”
 
In the early church, Peter’s influence was enormous and acknowledged by all. By virtue of his position, he was easily the most powerful figure in the Christian community. And his energetic preaching, ardent prayer, bold healing and wise direction confirmed the trust placed in him.
 
The way Peter handled himself in that position of power is even more impressive than the power itself. He stayed out of the center, didn’t “wield” power, maintained a scrupulous subordination to Jesus. Given his charismatic personality and well-deserved position at the head, he could easily have taken over, using the prominence of his association with Jesus to promote himself. He did not. That he didn’t do it, given the frequency with which spiritual leader do exactly that is impressive. Peter is a breath of fresh air.
 
These two letters of Peter, which we will pour over and learn from exhibit the qualities of Jesus that the Holy Spirit shaped in him:
–a readiness to embrace suffering rather than prestige
–wisdom developed from experience and not imposed from a book
–a humility that lacked nothing in vigor or imagination.
 
From what we know of the early stories of Peter, he had in him all the makings of a bully. That he didn’t become a bully (and religious bullies are the worst kind, believe me) but rather the boldly confident and humbly self-effacing servant of Jesus Christ that we discern in these letters, is a compelling witness to what he himself describes as “a brand-new life, with everything to live for.” Wow. Just wow.
 
Excited? I am.
 
1 Peter 1 cross
Dear Heavenly Father,
As we begin to study the letters of Peter, we are really learning about You. You are God and we are not. You are Messiah, the Christ who changed everything. We have a brand new life because of your work on that cross of sin bearing. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Continue to transform us into all you intended for us to be…and then do.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
1 Peter 1, The Message
 
1-2 I, Peter, am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten. God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus. May everything good from God be yours!
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BELIEVING PRAYER

James – Dealing with Sin
 
“Let us close in prayer…” Prayer seems to be the beginning and end to every corporate worship service. Prayer is sometimes relegated to merely function. “Someone want to pray over this meal?” “Pastor, would you pray at the end of our meeting?” How extremely sad if that’s all we think prayer is. Prayer IS worship, our holy, believing cries to God, our confessions worthy of His response to us. Prayer is the formidable weapon we have against the evil one with whom we battle daily…sometimes hourly.
 
James 5 kneesDo you know what Satan hates and fears most? Christian believers, on their knees, praying and crying out in the Name of Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior! Because evil is all around us working hard to bring us down, prayer is our choice of weapons along with our shield of faith believing God hears and will respond. Paul adamantly declares, “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians 6)
 
It is no wonder James “closes with prayer”, not the perfunctory type prayer but “prayer to be reckoned with”, prayer that heals from the inside out.
 
James 5, The Message
Prayer to Be Reckoned With
 
Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.
 
James 5 prayer16-18 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.
 
19-20 My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.
 
Promises of Believing Prayer:
–We will be healed from the inside out.
–We will be forgiven completely.
–We will be whole again.
–Jesus will put us back on our feet…here or with him in heaven. We can’t lose.
–There is Power in prayer because of to Whom we are praying.
–Prayer makes us aware of evil, defeats the efforts of evil, causing us to be more than conquerors in and with Jesus!
 
Our part:
–Confess sins.
–Pray always, unceasing and ongoing as if talking with a Friend…because He delights in this relationship!
–Pray on all occasions.
–Pray with grateful, believing hearts.
–Pray for and with each other. There is strength in the Name of Jesus. There is power, hope and a taste of glory when talking with Him. Then listen. Take time to listen.
 
James 5 howDear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the privilege to enter into Your Presence, In Jesus Name, and speak to you about life here while we prepare for life there. Thank you for cleansing us through confessed prayer. Thank you for listening to our cries for help. Thank you for overcoming evil that lies in wait as we pray for alertness to it. Thank you for guiding us and being with us as we draw near to you in prayer. We truly need you every hour.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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PATIENCE AND PROSE

James – Dealing with Sin
 
It has been said “patience is a virtue”. The biblical writers assume that we know what patience is and don’t give an explicit definition. But do we?
 
Could you define patience if you were asked? And, to make things more tricky, could you do so without simply citing examples of patience? Let’s begin with the basic definition, waiting and not complaining. Wait, what? Not complaining? Yes, that’s where the rubber meets the road.
 
James 5 enduringAs a virtuous act, patience is waiting WITHOUT complaining. What’s so virtuous about not complaining? In itself, not complaining carries no particular virtue. Suppose a person awaits the arrival of a friend from out of town, and he/she spends the time happily reading or watching television. We wouldn’t say that, simply because he/she’s not complaining, he/she exhibits patience in this case. Something else must be required to make one’s lack of complaint virtuous. That something is discomfort. It’s because a circumstance is uncomfortable for someone that we find him/her refusal to complain remarkable and thus regard him/her as patient.
 
So to improve the initial definition above, to be patient is to endure discomfort without complaint. This calls into play some other virtues, specifically, self-control, humility, and generosity. That is, patience is not a fundamental virtue so much as a complex of other virtues…including what we say out loud with our pesky tongues which James includes at the end of this particular passage. “Don’t add words”…”Just say what is true.” That way your language can’t be used against you.
 
James 5, The Message
Part Two
 
James 5 hope7-8 Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.
 
9 Friends, don’t complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know. The Judge is standing just around the corner.
 
10-11 Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.
 
12 And since you know that he cares, let your language show it. Don’t add words like “I swear to God” to your own words. Don’t show your impatience by concocting oaths to hurry up God. Just say yes or no. Just say what is true. That way, your language can’t be used against you.
 
THINK ABOUT IT…
 
James 5 attitudeThere are lots of action steps to take to be patient and strong:
–Stay steady and strong.
–Don’t complain…about anybody or anything.
–Put up with anything and anybody.
–Don’t quit.
–Honor God.
–Stay the course.
–Be like Job.
–Let your language show your patience.
–Just say yes or no.
–Say only what is true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind. (THINK before we speak.)
 
Small passage. Tough words to fulfill. Pray for wisdom.
 
One last thought from James S. Spiegel, of Christian Bible Studies, writes about how Jesus was patient with his disciples…and now us,
 
“Jesus was very patient with his disciples. They were sometimes thickheaded, lazy, selfish, and slow to believe. Even from a merely human standpoint, we can see how frustrating they must have been. How much more irritating it would be for God Incarnate to interact daily with these men. In spite of Jesus’ miracles and words of wisdom, they were focused upon themselves and wavered in their belief about who he really was. To say that was uncomfortable for Jesus would be an understatement. Yet do we find him railing at his disciples over their foolishness and stupidity? Or making fun of them when they make mistakes?”
 
“Occasionally he does remark that his disciples are slow to believe, or he asks rhetorically how long they will fail to have faith in him, but these are always appropriate reminders about just what was at stake for them. These were fitting and useful rebukes, not petty venting.”
 
“Notice that Jesus’ refusal to complain about his irritating disciples can be described as an exercise of self-control. Surely he would have been justified in blistering them with insults. It’s worth noting that his omniscience guaranteed that every possible joke and embarrassing remark was at his disposal on any particular occasion. This makes his self-control even more admirable.”
 
“His refusal to complain also involves humility, the conscious decision to lower himself by not exercising his right, as the holy man he was, to judge and dismiss his friends because of their faults. We might even say this is a form of mercy.”
 
James 5 patience by JesusSo, while the patience of Christ is exceptional in many respects, the basic features of this virtue are surely the same wherever it appears. Patience involves such things as self-control, humility, and generosity, all of which are themselves virtues. So one might say that patience is a virtue because it’s an exercise of several other virtues.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
You know what we lack and you show mercy when we realize it and repent. Thank you for continually working in us and through us for your glory, honor and praise. Help us, even today, to be more virtuous with waiting without complaining.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
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LAMENT LESSONS

James – Dealing with sin
 
We are considered rich if we make around $1400 a year when you compare us to the world’s wealth as a whole! So we should not think that this next passage is not for us! We don’t need to go around yelling, “I’m rich, I’m rich!” at this new revelation but, instead, take a few lessons in lament. Wait, what?
 
Lament, as a noun, is an expression of grief or sorrow for something lost. Whoever is lamenting is expressing great sorrow or regret and even grief about something or someone as in the loss of a life. So, what James is telling us is we need to come down from our self righteousness and humbly considered how you came to be rich. Did you exploit others to get where you are? Did someone lose so you could gain?Does your wealth dictate your confidence and haughtiness to the point you put down others who do not have what you have? Is your goal to only want and work for more? Do you take and not give back?
 
Our prayer to resolve this state of mind could be, “Lord, break my heart of those things that break your heart.” When we sincerely pray that prayer, listen and wait, God will reveal thoughts and subsequent actions that we have never considered before praying. We might see people who have been exploited, stepped on and need help. We might even see people we used to get ahead ourselves. Yikes.
 
So, from a different perspective, read the passage as a newly discovered “rich” person. Let’s discover what God is trying to tell all of us through James.
 
James 5, The Message
Part one
 
James 5 weepDestroying Your Life from Within
1-3 And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You’ll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you’ve piled up is judgment.
 
4-6 All the workers you’ve exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger. You’ve looted the earth and lived it up. But all you’ll have to show for it is a fatter than usual corpse. In fact, what you’ve done is condemn and murder perfectly good persons, who stand there and take it.
 
Bottom line: Use things, not people.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
We are monetarily rich in the world’s eyes. We are wealthier in life if we follow and obey Your ways. Let us be rich in You, for you, with you helping us. Help us to think and behave more and more like You each day. Open our eyes, help us to see our sin and repent. Then help us to live well, choose wisely, give back, be blessings and love greatly…like You.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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NO TO EVIL, YES TO GOD!

James – Dealing with sin
 
James 4 protests
We have been spending many days now praying for peace in the countries of our missionary friends and their families who are caught in the middle of violent protests and civil war in the countries God has invited them to serve with Him. Some of them have had to flee their home because of the degree of killing and destruction.
 
Our first sentence in our passage for today tells us where this violence all comes from, “Do you think they (wars and quarrels) just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.” Mm. Self…That’s where the war begins, says James.
 
If self were laid aside and a loud yes to God was shouted over the noise of self and the sin that results, what would change? Would wars cease? Would violence calm to peace? Would oppression and the oppressors come together? It seems to be deeper than all the political rhetoric that accompanies wars.
 
There will always be wars among you in this world, says Jesus. But I have overcome the world. When Jesus’ disciples ask when He would come and take over and set things right in their world of oppression from the Romans, Matthew relates what Jesus responded, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
 
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
 
James, brother to Jesus, tells to “get serious”, get on our knees and humbly ask God for help as we lay down self and live among war and violence that is the result of selfishness.
 
James 4, The Message
Get Serious
 
Jamres 4 quarrels1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
 
2-3 You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.
 
4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”
 
7-10 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
 
11-12 Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?
 
Nothing but a Wisp of Fog
13-15 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
 
16-17 As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.
 
James 4 draw nearSO, HOW DO WE PRAY FOR THOSE OPPRESSED AND AT WAR?
 
–On our knees. James did. He was called camel knees because of his way of humbled prayer to God.
–Lay down self (hourly, if needed) and opinions of why war and violence are happening…even when it seems obvious. It’s deeper than that.
–Seriously ask God to soften the hearts of those who are full of selfish desires that oppress others to get what they want.
–Pray without ceasing until Jesus comes to end all war.
–Pray believing that God knows and will respond.
–Pray Jesus words, “Lead us not into temptations, but deliver us from evil.”
–Pray for peace and help to end our personal internal wars with evil.
–Say a loud YES! to God when He asks you to join Him in His work.
 
I was mentored many years ago with these words:
KNOW GOD.
KNOW YOURSELF. (In relationship with God)
KNOW HIS MESSAGE.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY.
I have learned to add and remind myself daily:
KNOW JESUS HAS AND WILL DEFEAT YOUR ENEMY.
 
No matter where you are and what you are going through, “Greater is HE that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
 
Get serious. God is there for us.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Our hearts break for those caught in the middle of wars and the resulting violence perpetrated by selfish people who allow evil to reign in and through them. We pray for peace. We pray for the protection of your people. We pray your will be done. We pray for those who have lost loved ones as a result of war. Transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world in whatever way You desire. You know what is best, so we say yes to You!
In Jesus Name, and by Your power, Amen. I believe.
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WISE OR A WISE GUY?

James – Dealing with sin
 
Growing up our family and extended family were wise guys, joking around, playing harmless pranks just to get a laugh and enjoying every minute of it. The laugh was the only goal.
 
Being a “wise guy” crosses the line when words are twisted to make the wise guy look better than he/she really is. James tells us the difference in a wise guy and being wise. The Message paraphrase explains it simply and completely. Read, listen, and pray for God’s wisdom and see where He leads us next.
 
James 3 17James 3, The Message
Live Well, Live Wisely
 
13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.
 
17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
 
One more time, Developing Wisdom includes…
–Repent of our past and current sin.
–Love God. Love others.
–Read how Jesus lived and do that.
–Get along with others. No loopholes. Seek peace and resolution.
–Wisdom is gentle not loud.
–Wisdom is reasonable and consistent.
–Wisdom listens more and speaks less.
–Wisdom works hard to get along with others.
–Wisdom treats everyone with dignity and honor…above themselves…like Christ (Phil 2).
 
So am I wise…or just a wise guy or girl? Live well, Live wisely.
 
James 3 ask for wisdomDear Heavenly Father,
Give us wisdom, insight and understanding for each other. Your Word tells us only to ask for wisdom and You will give it, so we are asking so that we may live more holy, live well and live wisely with skills to get along with each other in ways that completely please you. But we need the help of Your Holy Spirit to guide our every thought and action. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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AND WHEN YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH…

James – Dealing with sin
 
We can already feel the tension rise just from reading the title. James sets us all down as school children in the principle’s office to remind us that words can maim, hurt, and destroy. A few well placed words can suck the life from lungs of a God created individual as he/she walks away, totally deflated and devalued. Words are used by bullies to destroy their prey so they will feel more powerful and important. Words are often as deadly as physical blows to the body. Words leave scars and bruises.
 
James 3 words of loveWell placed, thoughtful words can also heal, comfort and give value and worth. Words of love expressed at the right time, in the right way, build and deepen relationships. Words can lead people to the Truth of Jesus Christ. Actions that follow those words solidify Truth. James says that none of us get this right every time. That is true, too. We may be thought of as great people…until we open our mouths uncontrollably and let words tumble out that are not appropriate. We need help to control the thoughts that form the words that come tumbling out of our mouths. We need to think first, then speak.
 
James 3, The Message
When You Open Your Mouth
1-2 Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.
 
James 3 23-5 A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!
 
5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
 
7-10 This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
 
10-12 My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?
 
James 3 words of grace
What do we learn? It’s scary stuff!
 
–James says “this is scary, you can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue”. What is scarier in our day are the words we let fly with our nimble, typing fingers and post on social media!! It’s the same end result of no control. Somehow not using our tongue makes it better, less sinful? NO!
–We need to think before we type, pray before we type. When in doubt, even just a little, don’t type.
–Remember: THINK Ask this of ourselves before speaking. Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind? If not, don’t speak. It must pass all five filters.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Wow, this is enough to think about all day long. Help us, Lord to humble ourselves before you, repent of typing words that hurt and criticize. Guide our every thought and action. And when we open our mouths? Wow, I pray for your wisdom to tender every word before we speak. Help us, Lord. We repent of words that hurt others and therefore hurt you.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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